Coronado’s “Avenue Of Heroes” … Admiral Edward H. Martin, USN, Vietnam War POW

Some veterans are honored for conspicuous courage in the face of the enemy, and others for excellent performance in command of great fleets. Admiral Edward H. Martin is here recognized as a hero in both arenas.

Martin continued to serve his country and the city of Coronado even in retirement. The special regard of his neighbors and friends was made visible after he died on December 22, 2014. The huge crowd of mourners at his funeral spilled out of Christ Church into the large courtyard, where the ceremony was broadcast over loudspeakers.

Sherry Martin, who had married Ed in that same Church 56 years before, was later asked to comment on the extraordinary qualities of her husband. She promptly mentioned his unfailing devotion to the United States Navy on active duty and in retirement. “His hobbies all involved the Navy, but he also never lost his great sense of humor.”

Martin grew up in Savannah, Ga, and entered the Naval Academy in 1950, at the beginning of the Korean War. That conflict was over when he graduated in 1954, but the tense “Cold War” with Communist Russia and China continued throughout his 39 years of active service.

A brief biography cannot detail each of Ed’s varied assignments. Sherry Martin has often said that they moved 35 times! (She can say it with a smile, because she also grew up in a military family and was used to it.)

In summary, Ed Martin was trained as a pilot in Pensacola, Fl, and Kingsville, Texas, after he graduated from the Academy. From 1955 to 1962, his credentials as a pilot were firmly established when he was served successively in multi-engine and single-engine squadrons, and then served as an instructor both at North Island and Miramar.

During the next five years, Ed’s varied assignments included service as a Flag Lieutenant for three Admirals, a cruise in the Mediterranean and graduation from the Naval War College in Newport. He was rapidly promoted. By the May of 1967 he was a Commander, serving as Executive Officer of an Attack Squadron, VA-34, flying the single-seat A-4 “Skyhawk.”

With a ground and air war raging in Vietnam, the men of VA-34 sailed from Norfolk, Va, on the carrier Intrepid. The ship crossed the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea, then sailed through the Suez Canal on the way to the Tonkin Gulf off the coast of North Vietnam. After years of exposure to Cold War tensions, Commander Martin would fly in active combat.

The missions could be both dangerous and frustrating. The fliers were continuously exposed to attacks by ground-to-air missiles, but some prime targets were off-limits by restrictions imposed in Washington. Commander Martin did have one notable success on June 30, when he led an attack over the Haiphong Harbor that destroyed a large petroleum storage area. It was a mission for which he would later be awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross.

He would not get to wear the decoration for a long time, because just nine days later, his A-4 was hit by a missile in the area. He bailed out, was promptly captured on the ground, and imprisoned for almost six years.

It is not necessary to detail Ed Martin’s experience as a POW. The world 

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